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DeWine discusses Medicaid, opioid crisis in Cincinnati campaign stop

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 21, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he's focusing on curbing the opioid epidemic and making the Medicaid program sustainable during a campaign stop in Cincinnati Wednesday. 

DeWine is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. He said Medicaid isn't currently sustainable, but he wants to continue funding it for drug treatment.

"What's going to happen, we believe, is that the federal government will either block grant Medicaid back to the states, which is what we hope happens, or at the very least, will give Ohio and other states the ability to make waivers so we can create our own program," DeWine said.

Not everyone is impressed with the plans. Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper said almost everyone agrees we need to treat people who are addicted.

"Getting rid of the number one source of treatment would be a catastrophe," he said. 

Currently, about 150,000 Ohioans use Medicaid for addiction treatment. 

DeWine spoke about the 12-point plan to tackle to growing opioid epidemic. 

"We have multi-jurisdictional taskforces that are intercepting the Mexican drug cartel that comes up here," he said. "There's a lot of things I frankly can't do as attorney general."

Pepper called the 12-point plan "one of the least impressive things I can imagine seeing."

"Here's one of the items on it: Roll out a statewide drug prevention media campaign," he said. "You mean to tell me, in year eight in the attorney general's term, they haven't already thought about a statewide prevention campaign?"

More issues

DeWine also took questions on several topics during a taping of "This Week in Cincinnati" Wednesday. The first question was about the unsolved slayings of eight Rhoden family members in Pike County nearly two years ago. DeWine previously said his office would maintain a presence in the area until the case is solved.

"Our men and women are in and out of the county, depending on when that is necessary," he said this week. "You know, a lot of work, once you get beyond the initial investigation, can occur anywhere. Our crime lab and our BCI is located in London, Ohio, so we do a lot of the work there. 

When it comes to school shootings, DeWine said he advocates for a trained mental health professional in every building. If someone is armed in a building, he prefers it be a trained school resource officer. 

"A fallback position would be to find someone in that school who has a military background or a law enforcement background -- one of the teachers, someone else -- and under very carefully controlled circumstances, allow them to have access to a gun," he said. 

A key infrastructure priject is the Brent Spence Bridge corridor. There's been talk about improving it for 15 years, but nothing's been done. Kentucky leaders don't want tolls to help pay for it. But DeWine said he has "not seen any plan that would allow us to do that without tolls."